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Genomics: Long live the bat

Nature Communications

August 21, 2013

The genome sequence of a vesper bat that can live for more than 40 years reveals sequence variations in genes that are potentially involved in longevity. The work is reported this week in Nature Communications.

Myotis brandtii, or Brandt’s bat, is a small bat species that has a marked disparity between body size and longevity. Vadim Gladyshev and colleagues report the genome sequence of this bat and, by comparing this with other vertebrate genomes, they suggest proteins that might be important in echolocation, vision and longevity. The researchers compare the genome to the echolocating bottle nose dolphin and identify similarities in four proteins, two of which are found in the inner ear. They also find changes in genes that might have been involved in the adaptation of bats to dim light. The authors also examine the sequence of two growth factor receptors, growth hormone receptor and insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor, which have a role in longevity in mice, and find sequence changes compared to other tetrapods. These genes are also linked to dwarfism in mice and humans, consistent with the small size of long-lived bats. The authors conclude that alterations in these genes might be linked to the longevity of these bats.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms3212

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